[Don’t forget to check out the previous post concerning Cancel Culture.]
Cancel Culture. That’s such a buzz-worthy topic right now. It seems like every week a new celebrity is in danger of being “cancelled.” But surely those among the Christian community who decry the practice have never been guilty of similar actions against their own, right?
It hurts my heart to see my brothers and sisters in Christ go after each other and attack one another’s character. Cancel culture is alive and well even within the church. So what are we to do? Should we shine a spotlight on everyone’s sins or what we consider to be “false teaching” in order to shame them into repentance? Should we sweep it under the rug and pretend like there’s nothing to see here when the lives and faith of people are at stake?
Here are six ways we Christians to can stop propagating cancel culture while still maintaining our own integrity, values, and standards.
1. Stop being shocked all the time.
Whenever accusations are brought against someone – a celebrity, a pastor, or whomever – I inevitably see people react by saying, “I just can’t believe it!” or something to that effect. So first of all, let’s stop being so shocked all the time that people are sinners. Look inside yourself. Is there something in your own life currently or from your past that would shock most people who claim to know you?
We can be heartbroken and grieve. We can get angry at being deceived. But we shouldn’t be shocked or in denial all the time. It shouldn’t rock your world to find out that imperfect people are imperfect.
2. Wait to respond.
I intentionally stop myself from responding publicly to every new scandal or breaking news event. There is always more to the story. There will most certainly be more revelations as the investigation gets underway or when more people come forward with their story. I see many Christians jump on the judgmental bandwagon without knowing all the facts, and we make statements that age like milk. If we’re not careful, we could very well be in violation of the Ninth Commandment (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor) by sharing rumors and spreading misinformation, knowingly or not.
3. Love the sinner, hate your own dang sin.
I know we mean well when we talk about “hating the sin” but loving “the sinner.” But that line is too thin for me to be comfortable with. Love the sinner. Full stop.
Do you remember who Jesus hung out with all the time? “Sinners” and tax collectors. Do you remember what names Jesus got called? A drunkard and a glutton. Was Jesus ever in danger of passively condoning the sinful behavior of those whom he loved? Absolutely not! But in showing them the unconditional love of the Father, life change was sure to follow.
So many of us eagerly jump in to help someone remove the “speck” of sin from their eye, all the while needing emergency medical care to remove the beam that’s gotten lodged in our own eye. Jesus plainly tells us that we need to get our own junk figured out before we can even think to begin helping others. Too often I have seen Christian celebrities, televangelists, and pastors rage against a particular sin (adultery, drunkenness, gambling, drug use, abuse, etc) only to find out they have fallen deeply into that very sin.
Love the sinner. We’re all sinners. Hate your own sin. Ruthlessly address your own brokenness. Then maybe you’ll be equipped with the empathy and compassion necessary to help others out of their own struggle.
4. Forgiveness is not optional.
One of Jesus’ hardest teachings is this: If you don’t forgive others, God will not forgive you. Here’s the thing, forgiveness has nothing to do with whether the other person deserves it or not. Forgiveness frees you to move on. The Greek word literally means to exhale, to let go, to release. Forgiveness only requires one person – You.
Reconciliation and trust, on the other hand, is a two-way street. You can forgive someone, but that doesn’t mean you’re best buddies. We can collectively forgive a celebrity for their wrongdoing, but that doesn’t mean we continue to support them.
5. Use the brain that God gave you!
I’m reminded to two somewhat cliche truisms. 1) You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. And 2) It’s easier to fool someone than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.
We Christians need to pray for discernment and wisdom in making proper judgment calls. BuT i ThOuGhT yOu WeReN’t SuPpOsEd To JuDgE! Yeah, well Jesus did say, “Don’t judge, or you will be judged.” But he also said, “You will know them by their fruits.” A bad tree can’t bear good fruit. We can look at a person’s life and see deep down what kind of person they are. For instance, how do they treat their waiter at the restaurant? How do they interact with the employees lower down the ranks? How do they carry themselves when things don’t go 100% according to plan, or when they don’t get their way?
We can make proper judgments based on the fruit of people’s lives, especially if they live in the public eye. When it comes to pastors and ministers, it’s even more critical. My job is the only one with a warning label on it. We pastors and church leaders will receive a stricter judgment in the end. I need people in my life who will hold me accountable and will call me on my junk. I think we all do.
6. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.
Let’s be men and women of integrity. Pursue justice. Holding wrongdoers accountable is imperative for a functioning society. Do what is right and invite others to do the same.
Let’s be willing to show mercy to all, and love doing it! That means we shouldn’t get indignant when someone doesn’t get the public shaming and lashing that we think they deserve. We don’t cynically look down our noses at those who choose to forgive, but rather celebrate those moments of mercy and grace.
Let’s walk in humility, knowing that we are all sinners in need of grace. Paul is an example of this. He never places himself on a pedestal. Instead, he draws attention to his own horrible, sin-filled past as an example of just how amazing God’s grace is. He fully owns his sins and failures. He knew full well that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
To sum up, our lives as Christ followers should be governed by these key words that I’ve mentioned above:
That’s how we begin to cancel Cancel Culture.
What would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on future posts like this.